Changing classrooms

9th February 2001 at 00:00
Clare Dean and Maureen McTaggart look at how secondaries in Solihull plan to spend pound;100,000 each on sprucing themselves up

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen would no doubt have his own ideas how to spend pound;100,000 on improving a school's working environment - theatrical drapes, animal print fabrics and Gothic designs in the staffroom. The budget is certainly far more than the flamboyant interior designer is used to used to working with as star of BBC1's Changing Room series.

But that is how much each of Solihull's 13 secondary schools have been given by the Conservative-controlled council's education committee.

It is determined to do everything possible to recruit and retain the best quality staff and reckons the feel-good factor will work wonders.

Philip Mayhew, senior assistant education director, said: "This is not just about big projects. It's important that the working environment is right for everyone - pupils and teachers. If you've got to teach in a classroom that looks grotty, it matters."

At Archbishop Grimsha, headteacher Michael Corrigan, admitted: "Ours is not the most attractive school. We plan to add some trees and benches so that children can sit in the shade during summer."

The sixth-form block is to be spruced up - pupils want new lockers and staff want some internal areas redecorated, carpets to reduce noise levels and blinds.

"They're not asking for crystal chandeliers and revolving bars," said Mr Corrigan. "But pupils and teachers are entitled to something comparable to a modern office environment."

Susan Orlick, head of Langley school, said: "We need office space and interview rooms but are also desperate to get pupils out of huts so are consulting staff and governors to decide which is the priority."

Mark Juby, headteacher of Lode Heath school, meanwhile said: "We're pleased that we can start chipping away at many years of neglect and the money will go some way towards the revamp.

"Children really notice their surroundings and the difference it makes to the quality of education is awesome."

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